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Gosh, the CEO of Fletcher Building, Ross Taylor, says today's announcement of a half-year loss of $120 million for the company is "disappointing" and was "heavily impacted" by the Convention Centre losses. He must be crying all the way to the bank (to quote Las Vegas pianist Liberace). Taylor took home a salary of $6.9 million in 2021, $6.6 million in 2022 (which he stressed was "performance-based" - a "true reflection" of how the company had done) and $3.7 million in 2023. That's a total of $17.2 million these past three years. The company also shook you, the taxpayer, down for $68 million from the wage subsidy that it refused to pay back. Did that money go to paying directors fees? In 2022 Radio NZ reported, "The board chair received over $344,000 in directors' fees last year, and the lowest-paid director over $170,000". This year they asked shareholders for a 25% pay hike. I note one of Fletchers Board Members is Deputy Chair of the NZ Initiative. That "think tank" (read lobby group) is hugely influential with the new coalition.

It is time to break up Fletcher Building & end the dubious Fletcher legacy on this country. My grandfather employed Sir James Fletcher's future wife in his tiny law office. He said it was the best thing she ever did leaving his little firm to go work for Sir James, who she ended up marrying. He also joked how there was a time when Sir James was a National Party supporter but then "tore his pants climbing through the fence" when Labour came to power and he wanted building contracts from that government. The company has always enjoyed huge monopoly powers. These days, it has shown a special skill by struggling to make a buck whilst wielding those powers

National must prove it is pro-competition and pro-reducing-the-cost-of-living. So smash Fletcher Building into small bits and allow our building industry to function. It's not the low paid workers in this country who are responsible for our appalling productivity growth. It is the bosses - the management - the CEOs and Directors of many of our largest companies - who are failing us due to their ineptitude. When the boss is the wrong person, nothing else works no matter how good the workers on the ground. The Empire State building took just over one year to build - starting in 1930 and opening for business in 1931 (that includes the digging of the foundations). Nearly a century later, how long has it taken Fletcher Building to build the piddly-little Convention Centre? Nearly 10 years and counting.


Our country may be descending into the abyss of Aotearoa versus NZ. Interpreting the Treaty in one's own preferred way has become excruciating tedious - an exhausting road to nowhere. It has become an irrelevant quest anyhow - it doesn't even matter. What matters is how to answer the question, "What is the best constitutional arrangement for this country to serve the interests of Māori and non-Māori in the future?". Sunk costs are irrelevant.

History tells us that what typically happens to a country when two rival groups both believe they have the right to exercise sovereignty over the same territory is civil conflict. It may be avoided when one side, like the Scots, claim sovereignty over a geographically definable territory. In Scotland's case, it has a border with England. Should the Scottish Parliament get full jurisdictional independence, then things may work out - since they are able to govern their own territory whilst the English govern theirs. However that can never be the case here.

For the purpose of avoiding conflict arising from our kind of situation, a Swiss economist, Bruno Frey, who is ranked around 100th in the world in the subject, has rejected the idea of one government having monopoly powers over making laws. Just as we have choice over who to buy from in competitive markets, Frey thinks there should also be choice & competition when it comes to those who supply the rules that govern us. Federalism is one way to achieve that competition. Elon Musk became so fed up with the rules and laws in California that he has moved many of his businesses out, to the State of Texas. However, to take advantage of Texas' laws, Musk's businesses must physically move to Texas. To avoid this issue, Frey has touted the idea of "Functional, Overlapping Competing Jurisdictions" (FOCJ). You may think its a ridiculously technical name, but that's where resolving a situation where two sides claim sovereignty over the same territory takes you.

Frey states, "FOCJ need .. not have a monopoly over a certain area of land. This concept therefore completely differs from archaic nationalism with its fighting over pieces of land. It also breaks with the notion of federalism that units at the same level may not overlap". For example, there may be FOJC offering the "function" of school services. These may operate in the same territory & so "overlap". They would "compete" with one another. Each FOJC is free to set its own rules & taxes. You choose which to belong to. A related article (below) argues that "By allowing ethnic groups to organize areas important to them regardless of their geographic distribution, functional, overlapping & competing jurisdictions have an important role to play in the management of ethnic conflict in plural societies. The functional devolution of powers which is intrinsic to FOCJ may be preferable to territorial devolution when minority groups are spatially dispersed or, when they are geographically concentrated but are in a numerical minority in their region".

This idea is sometimes called "radical libertarian" as it would subject governments to competition within their existing jurisdiction. It's probably too libertarian even for those libertarians who support the ACT party. Furthermore, most economists doubt the operability of functional, overlapping, competing jurisdictions. Which means that the sovereignty debate we've been having becomes pointless since there is no solution to it.


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Robert MacCulloch

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